Susanna Centlivre

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Why is the play The Busie Body by Susanna Centlivre still relevant today? How do the plot and action speak to 2021?

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The play The Busie Body by Susanna Centlivre is still relevant today because so many parents still insist on interfering with their children's love lives.

The appropriately named Sir Jealous Traffick attempts to get his daughter Isabinda to marry Diego Babinetto, the man he's chosen for her. But Isabinda's heart is set on marrying Charles Gripe, the man she really loves. So Charles cleverly disguises himself as Babinetto, and an unwitting Sir Jealous gives his consent to his marriage to Isabinda.

In the meantime, Charles's father, Sir Francis, wants to marry his ward Miranda. But her heart is set on getting hitched to Sir George Airey, the man she loves. As with Charles Gripe, Miranda resorts to subterfuge to get what she wants.

Although relations between parents and children are much different nowadays than when The Busie Body was written, the play still carries a universal message: namely, that parents interfere in their children's love lives at their peril.

Most parents are understandably concerned about the choices their children make in relation to their partners, but some still go a little too far and try to exert too much control. As a consequence, children can become defiant, which can seriously damage relations between themselves and their parents.

Overprotective parents could do worse than to heed the wise words of Sir Jealous Traffick, who finally comes to his senses and realizes that this approach to his daughter's love life was all wrong:

By my Example let all Parents move,
And never strive to cross their Children's Love;
But still submit that Care to Providence above.

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